The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jen Howard, Free Press, (202) 265-1490 x22

Wired Less: Disconnected in Urban America

Free Press spotlights urban digital divide as FCC considers national broadband plan


With the Federal Communications Commission set to begin work on a national broadband strategy this week, Free Press today released Wired Less: Disconnected in Urban America, a multimedia report that calls attention to the urban digital divide.

"Even in some of our most tech-savvy cities, millions of people do not have high-speed Internet in their homes or businesses," said Megan Tady of Free Press, author of the report. "Many of these urban residents can't afford broadband access or -- just like their rural counterparts -- live in areas that have been redlined by Internet service providers that refuse to offer service."

Read and watch Wired Less: Disconnected in Urban America at

As part of the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus package approved in February, the FCC is responsible for developing a comprehensive plan for getting high-speed Internet to all Americans -- a process the agency will launch at tomorrow's open meeting.

While much of the discussion about broadband stimulus has focused on the coverage gaps in rural areas, many urban communities are facing a similar digital divide. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 43.7 million urban households across the country -- 46 percent -- are not connected to high-speed Internet.

Tady traveled to Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. -- two of the country's largest cities -- to further understand the impact of life without broadband on people in urban communities. The report is the companion to the previously released Five Days on the Digital Dirt Road, which documented the rural digital divide in North Carolina.

Wired Less: Disconnected in Urban America combines in-depth profiles and short, documentary-style videos into a compelling five-part series:

  • Offline in L.A.: The college and career aspirations of teenagers Lily Huerta and Julian Rosas' are stifled by lack of access, and Azusa Public Library Director Albert Tovar can barely keep up with the demand for Internet.
  • A Connection Changes Family's World: After struggling for years using slow dial up, the Quintero family has been transformed by finally getting a broadband connection in their home.
  • Desperately Needing the Net in El Monte: Twelve-year-old Michael Ibarra won a coveted scholarship to a private school, but has trouble completing his homework because his grandmother, Margaret, can't afford high-speed Internet.
  • D.C. Kids Want Internet: Ashea Williams and other teachers at at D.C.'s Arts and Technology Academy find that the lack of Internet access after school and at home has a big impact on their classrooms.
  • Left Out in the Cold in D.C.: Carpenter Ferman Fletcher wants to pursue a new career in music using the Internet, but can't afford broadband and is thwarted by the limitations of public computers.

"The digital divide is a national problem that calls for national solutions," Tady said. "The FCC should craft a broadband plan that reflects the needs of all Americans."

Read Wired Less: Disconnected in Urban America:

Read Five Days on the Digital Dirt Road:

Free Press was created to give people a voice in the crucial decisions that shape our media. We believe that positive social change, racial justice and meaningful engagement in public life require equitable access to technology, diverse and independent ownership of media platforms, and journalism that holds leaders accountable and tells people what's actually happening in their communities.

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